Techonomy Events

Nanosatellites Will Give Everyone Access to Space

The author display a Nanosatisfi CubeSat.

In the future, everyone on Earth will have ubiquitous access to outer space. That might seem to be a bold statement or to border on science fiction, yet a glance back in time at the influence and trajectory of technology in our lives makes it seem almost inevitable. The nascent commercial space industry is reliving the exact same pattern seen during the late 20th century computer revolution.   More

Government Techonomy Events

U.S. Elections Face a Crossroads on Rights and Technology

Most of the American electoral system functions as it has for hundreds of years, relying on manual processing of paper records.

Most Americans believe that voting is their right, like freedom of speech or freedom of religion. But the right to vote doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution. Americans have historically faced legal obstacles to voting based on race, property ownership, gender, or age, while others were limited based on procedural confines such as poll taxes and literacy tests. Regardless of when or how certain groups have won enfranchisement, election administrators, voters, and advocates need to consider how technology can be an empowering force to ensure eligible voters have easy access to the process.   More

Government

The Unhealthy Truth About Obamacare’s Contractors

(Image via Shutterstock)

On July 16 of this year, Sarah Kliff posted a prescient piece on the Washington Post's Wonkblog. The post, “Meet Serco, the private firm getting $1.2 billion to process your Obamacare application,” reported that 90 percent of Serco’s U.S. business is with the federal government and that the 25-year-old firm pretty much owes its existence to government contracting. She also noted that Serco's experience is in paper pushing, not healthcare. Nonetheless, Serco won a contract that will pay it $114 million in 2013 and that eye-popping number of $1.2 billion over the next five years.   More

Jobs Techonomy Events

Why Millennials Won’t Become Corporate Serfs

Millennials may be happier defining and creating their own work environment. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Whatever the recession rendered Millennials—cautious, cynical, underemployed, overeducated, boomerang kids who couldn’t be more grateful that debtors’ prisons have gone out of style—most of all, it made us aware. It showed us just how disloyal corporate America can be, no matter how loyal its staffers have been. It proved that security doesn’t exist, however prestigious your background or business card. And it forced us to interrogate the motives that had pushed our economy past its breaking point—to ask ourselves what work ought to be and mean and yield.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Should You Have the Right Not to Know Genetic Information?

Banded DNA sequence image via Shutterstock

Affordable genome sequencing has brought with it a host of ethical debates. Who owns the data? Who can access the data? Should we sequence children? But the debate most likely to directly affect you in the next few years is this: what happens if your physician has your genome sequenced and finds something that she wasn’t looking for?   More

Internet of Things Partner Insights

Beyond Things: The Internet of Everything Takes Connections to the Power of Four

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Many people are familiar with the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). Not only does it have its own Wikipedia article, but last month the Internet of Things was added to the Oxford dictionary, which defines it as “a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.” So it’s not surprising that people might be confused when we start talking about the Internet of Everything. What’s the difference? Is IoE simply a rebranding of IoT?   More

Techonomy Events

What Does It Mean to Be in the Revolution Business?

Techonomy 2013 is 11 days away, and as we prep speakers we're getting excited. Those who join us outside Tucson will hear Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini explain how he's building the "Intel Inside of healthcare." Stewart Brand explores the ethos driving tech. Tim O'Reilly and Max Levchin delineate the coming world. Tony Hsieh talks about companies intersecting with cities, especially Zappos' own Las Vegas. A 14-year-old explains Minecraft, and the ZZ Ward plays her soulful music. That's just the start.   More

Global Tech Government

Myanmar’s Promising Experiment with Internet Freedom

An Internet user in Myanmar. (Photo: Reel Media Myanmar)

After decades of rule by a brutal regime known for imprisoning cyber-dissidents, internet freedom in Myanmar expanded dramatically over the past year, according to a recent report by Freedom House. The report warns that the Internet in Myanmar is still “not free,” however, and that major obstacles remain to further improvement. One is a legacy of repression that casts a shadow on the reform process.   More

Government Techonomy Events

Getting the Digerati to Double-Down on Civic Challenges

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I have spent the better part of the past year investigating civic life in America. Last spring, on behalf of the organizations TurboVote and Reboot, I embedded for a week at a time in six different elections offices across this country, ranging from Brattleboro, Vermont, to Travis County, Texas. I met public innovators working hard behind the scenes, but I also found lumbering bureaucracies dependent on legacy technology systems.   More

Finance Techonomy Events

Why Disruptive Change Points to a New Humanism in Banking

Value is being redefined, and many are rethinking what constitutes real wealth and well-being, beyond money and GDP. We have to rethink how we measure wealth. Robert Kennedy said: “GDP measures everything ... except that which makes life worthwhile." Happiness indicators like Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, the OECD’s Better Life Index, and the UK’s Happy Planet Index are already helping the world define well-being and wealth beyond money.   More

Business

Kirkpatrick: Apple Still Defined by Great Products

Despite reporting quarterly earnings any other company would envy, Apple received a heavy dose of criticism from industry experts. A bevy of business and tech outlets reported on Apple’s “disappointing” quarter, pointing to the company’s shrinking margins as proof that it’s stuck. Pundits blamed the standstill on Apple’s sluggishness in rolling out what consumers want: the next big tech innovation—or two or three. Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick joined Bloomberg’s “Taking Stock” Monday night to offer his opinion on Apple’s fourth-quarter results and what they forecast for the company’s future.   More

Government Healthcare

A Healthcare Death Spiral Caused by Bad Website Design?

Media coverage of the HealthCare.gov debacle is plentiful, but two of the more poignant pieces to describe the cause and possible aftermath of the failed website rollout appeared in the New York Times in the past four days. Last Thursday, Clay Johnson, lead programmer for Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, and Harper Reed, the former chief technology officer of Obama for America, gave an insiders' perspective on why only a small fraction of the 20 million Americans who have logged onto Healthcare.gov have succeeded so far in obtaining insurance. Johnson and Reed blame "the way the government buys things."   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Hope Seen in Chromosome Therapy for Down Syndrome

A spectral karyotype of the human genome

There have been any number of approaches to managing Down syndrome or reducing its symptoms. But developmental biologist Jeanne Lawrence and her team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have taken a different tack, borrowing a biological mechanism honed by thousands of years of evolution and creatively applying it to try to nip Down syndrome in the bud.   More

Manufacturing

Sensors Take a Big Step Closer to Human Touch

A smartphone screen can detect where it’s being touched. But the SynTouch sensor works the other way around: It detects what it is touching. SynTouch LLC, a Los Angeles-based startup that began in a University of Southern California lab, has developed what it says is the first sensor that enables robots to replicate human touch. The company has been named a 2014 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer for its main product, the BioTac, a fingertip that can sense force, temperature, and vibration—in some cases more accurately than a human finger.   More

Global Tech Manufacturing

Techonomy’s Kirkpatrick Moderates CFR’s 3D-Printing Panel

It's hard to believe you can manufacture your own toys and tchotchkes—not in a factory, but in your home. But companies including MakerBot and Solidoodle are already making it possible, selling low-end 3D printers to consumers for as little as $499. The printers spray liquified powders in thousands of layers to form almost any imaginable shape. And industrial models can even "print" objects made out of Titanium, glass, and many other materials.   More

Business Security & Privacy

Why a Drone-Dominated World Will Demand Interdisciplinary Policymaking

credit: karen axelrad via flickr

Global headlines this week are focused on U.S. military drone attacks in Pakistan. But a conference in New York last weekend addressed the myriad additional policy implications of a consumer-drone-dominated world. Wish you could have been a fly on the wall for the first-ever Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference (DARC)? In a podcast broadcast by Drone U on Slate, meeting co-chair Christopher Wong, executive director of the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at the New York University School of Law, recaps the top issues on the table there.   More

Business

The Farmer, the Food Truck, and the Foodie

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A few Digital Alley workers are already craning to see which food trucks will serve their lunch at San Francisco’s SOMA StrEAT Food Park when the French bistro truck, France Delices, pulls into the gravel lot by a highway overpass and shoehorns between Kung Fu Tacos and Bacon! Bacon! Fans all across town are receiving tweets and text alerts about favorite trucks’ locations and daily specials. Food trucks aren’t the most obvious businesses benefiting from rapid advances in core digital technologies. But in both the highest-tech new industries and traditional hands-on small businesses, advances in social software, cloud computing, and other technologies are reducing the cost of identifying and managing a large number of participants in a diverse ecosystem.   More

Jobs Learning

The Public Image of the Female Programmer

(Image via Shutterstock)

The Labor Department has estimated that there will be 1.4 million job openings for computer-related occupations this decade. On the heels of less-than-stellar jobs numbers, this should be welcome news to millennials planning their career paths. But, as Catherine Rampell wrote in this week’s New York Times Magazine, few young women are choosing the computer science field, despite its potential for high incomes and flexibility. Why is this? Rampell suggests that computer science has a “public-image problem,” and there aren’t enough narratives of successful women in the field.   More

Global Tech Jobs

Creating Great Employees (Who Happen to be Autistic)

A Specialisterne student with ASD works with a Lego Mindstorm Robot.

Thirty-year-old Tobias Ussing admits that his Asperger syndrome, on the milder end of the autism spectrum, is “a lot to work with.” Despite loads of motivation and experience, finding a permanent job has been a challenge, even though he is a highly capable computer programmer who began coding in the 1980s on a Commodore 64. Specialisterne, a company founded in his native Denmark, got Ussing “out of the gutter,” he says. Specialisterne helps people with autism spectrum disorders who have business potential find work. Thorkil Sonne founded Specialisterne in 2004 because his son, Lars, who had been diagnosed at age three with autism, demonstrated an incredible aptitude for processing large amounts of information and catching details.   More

Finance Global Tech

Alibaba-Yahoo: Still Some Love?

Alibaba may have lost its affection for Hong Kong’s securities regulator after an impasse over its IPO plans, but it appears to be moving in a happier direction these days with U.S. Internet giant Yahoo. That’s my assessment, following word that Yahoo will hold onto a larger share of China’s e-commerce leader than the two sides had previously agreed to last year when they reached a landmark deal to end their stormy 7-year-old marriage.   More